tv CNN Presents CNN August 19, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
house and he has my full support. i'm gog to do what i can to help that he gets a second term in office. >> i'm alison kosik at the cnn world headquarters in atlanta. have a good night and a great week. tonight on "cnn presents" twisted tale. a pizza delivery man robs a bank with a bomb around his neck. that is just the beginning of one of the most bizarre crimes ever. the twisted tale of the man known as the pizza bomber.
refund robbery. thissonant just a drug bust. it involves tax fraud and your refund is at risk. vanished. two florida men last seen with the same sheriff's deputy. >> do you have any hope your son is still alive? >> i don't believe he is alive. >> the mystery surrounding two missing men. revealing investigations, fascinating characters, stories with impact. this is "cnn presents" with your hosts tonight. >> tonight bizarre crime stories of baffling who done it and the mississippi case of two men who vanished.
>> a man described as the salt of the earth was dead and a mystery full of strange twists was about to unfold with this phone call to 911. august 28, 2003 within minutes of robbing a bank brian wells is surrounded by police cross legged on the ground and hand cuffed. he told police he was a pizza delivery man and delivered a pizza and the group he delivered it to captured him and put this bomb around his neck. he asks police to call his boss and then to save his life. 25 minutes tick by and then the
device begins to beep. in an instant the bank robber is dead. the death of brian wells in this parking lot that day turned out to be only the beginning of the most elaborate, intricate and some say still unsolved bank robbery case the fbi has ever had. >> at the end of it all our system worked, our law enforcement partners solved the puzzle and we achieved convictions of long sentences. >> the fbi, the local police and the u.s. attorney's office simply want this case to be closed but is it? tonight you decide. did the fbi catch all the suspects? did the fbi let one of them walk? and did the fbi make a mistake
putting blame on a pizza delivery man whose secrets blew up in a parking lot? it was a hot thursday afternoon. she was expecting to see her brother at a party that night but had one ernd to run, a quick shopping trip but there was trouble. police had blocked the road, cops and cars everywhere. she turned around and went home. it was only later that night watching the 10:00 news she learned what that traffic was all about. >> my kids are sitting on the couch. and then the story airs of bank robbery and a man came into the bank with a bomb on him. >> you are recognizing your brother? >> sitting there with the bomb on him.
the police have him. a as it goes on it's like the bomb went off. brian's dead and i'm like i can't believe this. >> after the explosion one of the first things the cops did was look inside his car and they found these, meticulous notes that amounted to a bizarre scavenger hunt, notes given to brian wells instructing him to follow a lengthy set of orders if he wanted to survive. >> laying out this puzzling scavenger hunt directing him to go to specific places. >> rich shapiro is someone who note extensively. >> if he completed it he would be able to save his life. >> have you asked yourself why didn't my brother get into that
car and drive straight to the police station? >> i never asked that because brian was in survival mode. i truly believe he was trying to save his life and other's lives. >> but the police had no idea what to think. was brian wells a victim? was he in on the robbery? what were those notes all about and who wrote them? why? there were no answers but plenty of agencies wanting to be involved in the biggest case eerie had seen. >> we formed a task force surprised of the pennsylvania state police, the atf, the police department, specifically their bomb squad. the united states attorney's office and the county district's attorney's office. >> i wouldn't be surprised if some game warden was on the task force. >> a former fbi agent studied
the case from the beginning. so you have 50 people running around randomly conducting leads with very little coordination. no one really seemed to be in charge. >> from the outset he believes the fbi, the police are the law enforcement agencies involved were on the wrong track. this was not, he says, a bank robbery. >> you believe brian wells was murdered? >> he was murdered and it was a first degree murder. this was an intentional, premeditated homicide. moreover, it was extremely cruel in the way the crime was execut executed. >> not just the crime, the actual bomb was a crude masterpiece of someone's twisted art. police would find intricate decoy cables, home made lock all made into a bizarre puzzle
wrapped around the neck of the victim. whatever this was, a bank robbery, a violent murder the case was about to take another bizarre almost unreal twist. a second body, this one hidden in a freezer and a new suspect telling an even stranger tale. >> what came first, the body or the freezer? >> the body came in and i fut on a cart. >> just ahead, a man, a body and an ever expanding cast of suspects. if you are one of the millions of men
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as brian wells was on the ground in that half hour after he robbed the bank, another man was watching everything unfold from across the street. according to an fbi affidavit informants say a handyman was sitting in his car, eyes focused on brian wells. officials later said he was the master mind behind the entire scheme. >> a piece of green tarp down here to put his body on.
>> this is bill a few months after that bank robbery in a police evidence tape where he is explaining to a detective how he helped a former girlfriend dispose of a body. >> what came first, the body or the freezer? >> the body came in and i put it on the cart. the cart with the big wheels and not the small wheels. that one there. >> what a really going on here? what did that body in the freezer and his confession have to do with the collar bomb explosion that killed brian wells? in a word, everything. bill told police he was just doing margery a favor. he claimed she had killed her abusive ex-boyfriend but the fbi's investigation tells another story.
roaden knew about the bank robbery plot and was about to go to police. >> he came to the house and helped. took the body out and replaced floor boards and everything, got rid of everything that might have blood on it. >> after he turned her into police for the murder she stunned investigators with another twist. she connected him to the biggest bank robbery. >> to build the bomb and test the bomb and all the components he had to have already been building it and designing it. in doing that he also said i need some money so she just gave him like $75,000 worth of money that she also kept at the house so he is left with two things, all of her money and a dead body
that would make her lose her liberty for the rest of her life. >> even though she had been talking with police it took the fbi nearly four more years before it could tie up all the loose ends. everybody, the fbi said was involved with the robbery. bill, margery armstrong and another suspect, a crack dealer named kenneth barns who claimed brian wells was in on the plot from the beginning and he was duped. >> wells was told he would be robbing the bank with the device around his neck would be fake so he would not be putting himself in harm's way. as it turns out he was double cross crossed. >> jim fisher believes it was rothstein who wanted to pull off the crime. the elaborate scavenger hunt
would send police to a dead end and the white t shirt spray painted with the word guess. to fisher all of it hatched in the mind of a mad man. >> the kind of motives we can understand, someone needs the money. then we have a category of crime involving something a normal person can't really understand. >> you are describing bill rothstein. >> that would be bill rothstein in my mind. to me he fits too a t the profile of someone who commits such a bizarre and pathological crime. >> now four years after the original crime the government had to prove in court its theory was correct. and there were two big problems.
rothstein, the alleged master mind died before being officially linked to the crime. and the other main suspect had doled so many lies she was showing evidence of mental problems and a personality disorder. >> the mental illness was a 30-year history. the personality disorders were a 30-year history. >> over many delays and many more years the government finally obtained convictions on charges of bank robbery and murder. life plus 30 years for margery armstrong. a lesser sentence for kenneth barns because he testified on behalf of prosecutors. brian wells who died with that bomb around his neck, well, the federal government says he, too, was in on the crime. >> when brian delivered the pizza he was accosted on gun
point by a group of strangers whom he did not know. they shot at him. when he tried to run away they knocked him to the ground. >> the fbi version as you know is different. >> that's a lie. that's a lie. that's all their fabrication. >> the fbi did agree to sit down with cnn to explain their case and their prosecution, how it all went down. they just wanted to know the day we would arrive here and where the interview would take place. then the fbi began asking us questions. who else would be interviewed for this report? and suddenly the interview with the fbi was off. jim fisher says the fbi and the u.s. attorney took the easy way out and never really solved the case. >> bill rothstein died about a year after the crime and he died with in my opinion all the secrets, all the answers.
and to that extent nobody literally dies laughing. he went to his grave knowing that he had got everyone. >> neither the u.s. attorney's office nor the fbi would comment to cnn about the assertion. yet there is someone who is aalive who kenneth barns says was at rothstein's house the day of the robbery but was never charged in the crime. he is the convicted sex offender granted immunity in exchange for a testimony he was never asked to give. next -- >> brian wells' family is wanting to know about you. >> could this man hold the answers that would finally solve the case? it took a mighty machine, and plain old ingenuity to go where no fifth grader had gone before. ♪
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in her search for justice gene hyde said she spent years trying to learn the truth from the one man she believes holds the key to her brother's innocence. his name is floyd stockton who authorities say was living with bill rothstein at the day of the bank robbery. >> he is a convicted rapist, serial sexual battery of his wife and he's out there. he's out there, people. >> he is the only one left alive and sane enough to tell the truth she believes yet the federal government has allowed him to go free. >> they know that my brother is
innocent 100% and they know that bill rothstein, jay stockton are the co conspirators in the crime that killed brian. >> according to this fbi affidavit investigators learned of stockton's knowledge to the crime when stockton talked about it in a monitored phone call from jail. stockton was released and then given immunity to testify for the government in the pizza bomb case. investigators say they compared stockton's handwriting to this handwriting. it was a perfect match. >> the authorities believe there were at least two people who wrote the notes and jay stockton is definitely one of them. >> on camera is kenneth barns. >> there is also the testimony of this man, kenneth barns. >> like i say, i never killed
anybody. >> barns pled guilty and is serving a 20-year sentence for his role in the case. it is this fbi search warrant affidavit now obtained by cnn which raises even more questions about why jay stockton has been allowed to go free. according to the affidavit barns and others say floyd stockton was deeply involved in the plot. barns telling the fbi on the day of the crime it was stockton who went into the garage, got the collar bomb and handed it to rothstein. when we asked then u.s. attorney from western pennsylvania why stockton never testified and was never charged she initially told us stockton was sick, had suffered several strokes and was unable to travel. after our initial phone call buchanan never talked to us again and at a news conference the current u.s. attorney wasn't
forth coming, either. >> what about mr. stockton? what can you tell us about his status and will he ever be proskutded on this? >> we are not in position to comment on mr. stockton. >> the attorney says there is good reason the u.s. attorney and the fbi want to keep quiet about jay stockton. >> do you think he is the one person who got away with this sth. >> he got immunity from the government free and clear. convicted sex offender. the government felt he was the least involved person and so they gave him immunity. >> they shouldn't have gave him immunity. he is the guilty one that killed my brother. he deserves to be brought to justice. >> stockton has been featured on the television show, america's most wanted. private investigators have tried
to track him down but stockton has literally vanished. that is what he may have thought until the day we found him. these are pictures of stockton today. two hours north of seattle down a side street in bellingham, washington. we found stockton where he told our investigator he has been living in this duplex for the past six years but was soon about to leave. a week later we spotted him leaving the duplex in a pickup truck. we followed to an rv sales lot where he was eyeing a large recreational vehicle. it was perhaps the first time in years anyone had mentioned his involvement in the pizza bomb case. >> mr. stockton, right? i'm with cnn. how are you doing? it has taken a long time for me to find you. i wanted to ask you some questions. brian wells' family is really
wanting to know about you. as fast as he could with his driver side window lowered jay stockton sped away not saying a word. >> mr. stockton this is drew griffin again with cnn. brian wells family is trying to get to the truth of the matter about particularly their brother. you are the only one alive and sane enough to tell the truth and that is what they are after. he has refused all of our phone calls, refused to respond to notes placed at his door. the assistant u.s. attorney who prosecuted the case insists to us jay stockton would tell us what the federal government has proven in court, that brian wells was involved with the bank robbery. no one could have sat through this criminal trial without understanding the degree of evidence linking mr. wells to these particular participants.
>> in fact the same affidavit that impplicates stockton saying brian wells knew the plot all along, was involved in the planning and part of the band of criminal misfits trying to rob a bank. gene hyde will never believe that. she believes her government is lying. >> they lit an innocent man die while in their custody and they didn't lift a finger to help him. this case is going to be looked at for years to come. they don't want it known that they screwed up. brian would have never done this. >> gene hyde is still claiming her brother's innocence and won't rest until she can prove it. there is a new book scheduled to
be published this year. one of the reporters has been following the case all these years. the other author is the lead vae investigator. it is called the new crack cocaine of crime, thieves stealing your tax refund before you know it. how do they do it? yummy, scrumptious bars. hmm? i just wanted you to eat more fiber. chewy, oatie, gooeyness... and fraudulence. i'm in deep, babe. you certainly are. [ male announcer ] fiber one.
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imagine filing your income taxes only to be told someone else has already done the same thing and gotten your refund. >> it is a fraud so big that the i.r.s. doesn't know how much money is getting into the hands of criminals although law enforcement says it is well into the billions of dollars. >> every taxpayer is at risk. as our investigation reveals the criminals have gotten incredibly brazen in spite of a crack down on refund fraud. police call this the crack cocaine of crime. >> for the first time in our investigation you will see the fraud as it unfolds in florida where in some neighborhoods refund robbery has become a way of life. >> westbound on 163. this is a known gang member. slow down. let him get around us. >> we've just rolled up on what
police say is evidence of one of the biggest and easiest frauds in america to pull off, a crime hidden on a piece of plastic. >> he has the cards. >> those debit cards police say are used to take advantage of fast tax refunds from the irs. the thieves are stealing those refunds by stealing people's identities, filing returns online with phony information and getting the irs to put the refund money on debit cards. >> this is what they are buying. green dot money cards. he went to target and spent $600 and paid with a debit card. >> you got a thousand dollars in gift cards. >> police say the man pulled over already facing identity theft charges in another case is a known member of the money avenue gang which specializes in this kind of fraud. he is in no mood to talk i'm
curious what you do for work that you have such a fancy car. >> i don't know anything about that. >> can you tell me if you know anything about identity theft? >> i don't know nothing about nothing. >> detectives of the north miami beach florida police department will later charge him with buying these gift cards with stolen tax return money. police say here is the same guy on video at target using a debit card in someone else's name with a fraudulent tax refund on it and used that debit card to buy the gift cards on the front seat of the car. he is arrested for marijuana possession but police later charge him with grand theft in connection with tax refund fraud. he pled guilty to the drug charge but not guilty to grand
theft. how easy is it? >> it is so easy as the federal government putting crack cocaine in candy machines. >> we have a detective on the scene. >> a car just pulled up. we observed receiving about 23 fraudulent u.s. treasury checks. >> police with just 98 officers patrolling a city of 41,000 have seen over $100 million in tax refund fraud just in the last two years alone. it's big money. the criminals cash in those debit cards as quickly as possible showing off their riches with expensive luxury cars, jaguar, porsche, bmw, mercedes benzand souped up sports cars with expensive rims. they flaunt fancy watches, diamond pendants worth $55 thousand and other jewelry.
this one inscribed with the words money hungry. is this all about fast money? fast lifestyle? >> i think it is. the money doesn't mean anything to them because they can make so much of it. >> they buy the social security numbers from insiders at hospitals, doctor's offices and car dealerships. larry gomer says as soon as the thieves buy a debit card they are off and running. >> they register that card in the name of the victim. they already have the victim's name, date of birth and social security number. >> the identity thieves call it the drop. the criminals take the drop money to get the money off the card as quickly as possible. as these police videos of suspect whose were later arrested show. while the debit cards are widely
used for fraud the criminals are so confident they won't get caught that they even have u.s. treasury checks sent to them. in this north miami beach neighborhood tax refund fraud has replaced drug dealing. >> the cars you pull over do you find bricks of debit cards? >> debit cards and the other thing we find that we get lucky on is the actual ledgers of names, social securities and dates of birth that they have stolen. >> no one is safe. these two detectives among four in the unit who fight this crime are victims of tax refund fraud. detective love got a call hours before our interview that someone had filed a tax return under her name. >> here we are living a legal life and working a job and these crooks are rolling around in $100,000 cars and staying in
penthouses and throwing money at strip clubs with my money. >> detective jose got this message when he tried to file his return this year, someone else had already done it under his name. >> it mostly effects our family. when you start messing with our family it is something you take to another level. >> he was counting on more than $9,000. love was expecting $6,100. >> i know from dealing with victims it will be a long time before i see the money. >> coming up what does the irs say to some officials who charge it is making it too easy for your money to end up in the hands of criminals. >> why hasn't the irs stopped that? [ male announcer ] citi turns 200 this year.
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website, a red flag for fraud. >> you got the information from somebody with their social, e-mail address, dollar amount to put in for with the federal government. >> and anyone can learn the crime. this hand written guide taken by police spells out how to get away with it, something this police informant we'll call cheryl knows too well. she says she teaches friends how to do the refund dropped on to a debit card. >> this is like friends get together and we are going to meet here and everybody bring lap tops and we will work together. some people work 8 in the morning until 8:00t at night. >> do you think anybody thinks about the person whose identity
they have stolen? >> no. they want to be better than the next person. >> the goal, make money as fast as possible. >> fast money, you have to flash it. you have to let others know i got this. >> even if it means you are going to go to jail? >> yeah. >> and the lure was apparently too much for cheryl. just days after our interview she was arrested for tax refund fraud. >> the process is broken. >> in tampa alone where police estimate the fraud approaches a staggering half billion dollars in the past two years police chief jane caster says the irs efforts to curtail it are not working. >> i don't think i have seen this magnitude of fraud that is just wide open. it's wide open and there doesn't
seem to be much being done about it. >> she says suspects charged by local police know the penalties are alike unless there are federal charges which in most cases don't happen or take a long time file. for its part the irs identified $6.5 billion in tax refund fraud related to identity theft last year. >> i would like to hear the other side of that equation, too, and an estimation of how much got through. >> that's what we wanted to know. after weeks of asking the irs's deputy commissioner still could not provide an estimate of the fraud that has gone undetected. >> you can tell us how much has been caught but the irs can't say how much of this fraudulent money has ended up in criminal's hands? >> we process 140 million tax returns on a given year. the greatest majority of our
taxpayers file a legitimate tax return. do some of these fraudsteres actually get a tax refund illegally? unfortunately, yes. for the size of the problem we probably need to get back to you with a number. >> we are still waiting on that number. typical says tampa mayor who is furious with the irs. >> has the irs disappointed you and your city? >> i don't know. i haven't seen them. as far as i'm concerned they are missing in action. they have not been helpful or been a player or taken responsibility for their side of the enforcement. we have been banging our heads against their door asking for help and getting nothing in response. the silence has been deafening. >> is the irs missing in action in tampa? >> the irs is not. we have significantly increased
the amount of resources we have devoted to identity theft which is a hanie devoted to identity theft which is a haniinous crime. one week after our interview the irs sent a team to meet with police officials in tampa. law enforcement tells us there is a simple solution to curbing the fraud. don't allow refunds to be put on debit cards. why hasn't the irs stopped that? >> not every taxpayer has a bank account so the debit cards are a legitimate way for taxpayers to get their refund. >> the irs does not verify information entered on the return before issuing the refund. >> how much of this has to do with a speedy return? i know you want to get the return to the taxpayers as early as possible? >> the balancing act is something we are aware of.
the american taxpayer who worked hard all year long, they have a right to get that refund from irs as quickly as possible. >> and the fraudsteres know time is on their side. the faster the irs sends the returns the sooner they get some hard working taxpayer's cash. >> it is an underground epidemic taken the place of street level drug dealing. it is a very scary proposition. >> the treasury inspector general says it can take victims of fraud more than a year to resolve their cases and according to police this problem is only getting bigger as more criminals learn how easy it is to pull off. police also say they have been told that high school students are doing the fraudulent returns. up next the mysterious disappearance of two men in florida last seen in the hands of a law enforcement officer.
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martin case recent history in florida and elsewhere gives many in the african american community reason to suspect and in some cases fear the police. in his blog tyler perry describes an intense traffic stop he had with police in atlanta and calls to attention a case in florida where two men's last encounter was with police. >> she hasn't seen her son in more than eight years. >> do you have any hope your son is still alive? >> i don't believe that terrence is alive. at this point i have to find out what happened to him. >> what happens to him is anybody's guess. he was last seen outside this cemetery on january 11, 2004 with this man, sheriff's deputy steve caulkens. >> investigators say the story about meeting williams at the cemetery doesn't add up.
at one point he said he pulled williams car over because it was having problems. when he called his friend in dispatch he reported the car had been abandoned. he never led on he had any contact with the driver, terrence williams. >> i got a homey cadlic on the side of the road here signal 11, signal 52. >> maybe he's out there in the cemetery. >> if the driver was not around how was deputy caulkens able to run a background check using terrence's name and birth date? >> last name? williams common spelling. >> yet just four days later caulkens claims to remember nothing of the car or the driver. listen to what he says when a sheriff's dispatcher calls him
at home. >> isn't that amazing? he is a seasoned veteran and he couldn't remember four days later? >> so you don't buy that. >> it's not true. it's not true at all. >> eight days after terrence vanished deputy calkins was ordered to write a report and in this report a different story emerges. deputy calkins says he drove him to this circle k. just months earlier investigators heard the same story from deputy calkins about another missing man.
he vanished in 2003 after deputy calkins responded to a scene. he issued a citation and put him in the back of his sheriff's car. the brother also at the scene asked we hide his face out of fear for his own safety. >> did deputy calkins tell you where he was taking your brother? >> translator: the officer never told us anything. later we went to the jail and my brother wasn't there. >> when he was questioned about santos he told investigators he dropped him off at a circle k. >> we have no independent cooperation of anybody telling us they saw them at the circle k's. that is simply calkins' testimony. >> o'neil says neither of the men were seen on circle k's
security cameras. steve calkins gave a sworn statement telling investigators he called the circle k. he told investigators he made that call from his work issued nextelphone but they told him there was no record of a call to this circle k from this cell phone he brushed it off saying i don't know what to tell you. you have been doing this for a long time. you know when something doesn't smell right. do you think he had anything to do with the disappearance? >> he is absolutely in the middle of the investigation. everything i turn to brings me back to steve calkins. months later calkins was fired for lying. he hasn't been charged with a
crime because no criminal evidence was found linking him to the disappearances. investigators say the deputy's car was searched and described as immaculate. his home was never searched because according to investigators they didn't have the evidence needed for a search warrant. we wanted to ask steve calkins some questions but couldn't get past this woman. in 2006 calkins did tell a paper he didn't do anything wrong. he suggested maybe they ran away. >> if terrence was alive he woulde